Health Spotlight: Men’s Health Month

Have you scheduled your annual physical yet? For men who are overdue for a checkup or preventive screening, physicians recommend urging the men in your life to make an appointment in observance of Men’s Health Month this June.

What You Need to Know

James Howell, DO is a board-certified family medicine physician with more than 15 years of medical experience. He has served patients at FamilyCare Specialists in West Knoxville since 2016.

Dr. Howell recommends a physical every year for those who are 18 and older. He suggests scheduling this yearly exam near one’s birthday to make it easier to remember. The exam includes checking for hypertension, or high blood pressure, as this can affect any age.

headshot of Dr. James Howell
James Howell, DO, primary care physician at FamilyCare Specialists

Preventive Screenings To Know

Under Age 39

Men with diabetes, hypertension and those who smoke are at a higher risk for hyperlipidemia, a condition indicating high levels of fat particles (lipids) in the blood.

Hyperlipidemia does not cause symptoms, but the lipids can restrict blood flow leading to higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Dr. Howell recommends screening for hyperlipidemia in men aged 17-21 with a one-time screening with a non-fasting non HDL cholesterol level. The screening with a lipid profile blood test is recommended every five years for adults.

Men more than 20 years old should undergo cardiovascular risk assessment every three to five years.

Age 40 and up

Beginning at age 40, men may be screened for Type 2 diabetes with a blood test; those at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes are those with a history of hyperlipidemia or hypertension and a BMI (body mass index) of more than 25. The United States Preventive Services task Force recommends a blood pressure of 130-139/80-89 in men above 40. For adult men with hypertension or hyperlipidemia as well as adults aged 35-70 with a body mass index greater than 25 is recommended to be screened for type 2 diabetes. 

Age 45 and up

Colon cancer screening is now recommended at age 45 and should be done every 10 years up to 75-85 depending on the patient’s risk factors.

Age 50 and up

To check for colorectal cancer, doctors recommend a colonoscopy screening every 10 years starting at age 50, for average-risk patients. Men 50 years and older should also receive the shingles vaccine to prevent the shingles rash.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men, second only to skin cancer. Prostate cancer screenings are recommended annually for men who are age 50 and older, and the blood test measures the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood.

Dr. Howell advises that men complaining of fatigue, decreased libido, and weight gain should consider having their testosterone levels checked.

Age 65 and up

Lung cancer screenings may be prescribed for men ages 55-74 who have quit smoking in the last 15 years or who smoke an average of 30 packs of cigarettes per year. This is a low dose CT scan that may reveal any underlying issues as a result of smoking.  An abdominal aortic aneurysm screening may be recommended for men ages 65 to 75 if they have ever smoked. This screening is done with a one‐time ultrasound for abdominal aortic aneurysms.

Stay Healthy – Prevent Future Issues

For overall general good health, Dr. Howell recommends a daily multivitamin and the annual influenza vaccine to prevent flu.

For adults facing high cholesterol and diabetes, Dr. Howell recommends 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day and limiting daily caloric intake to 2,000 calories per day.  “For a balanced, heart-healthy diet. I also recommend avoiding fatty foods and fried foods and excess sweets and sodas whenever possible.”

“The worst thing you can do to your body is smoke cigarettes,” he reports. “Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and death in The United States. So, don’t smoke, and if you do smoke talk to your doctor about ways to help you quit smoking.”

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath or fever, contact your healthcare provider. If you are faced with a life-threatening emergency, do not delay care; call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency department.

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